Research in the Department covers the structure of language at all levels, with substantial coverage of syntax, semantics, phonetics, and phonology. We approach these topics from several different methodological traditions and backgrounds, with particular strengths in formal-theoretical linguistics, experimental linguistics, field linguistics, acquisition, and computational approaches. These research areas intersect and overlap considerably, and faculty and students are often simultaneously involved in more than one area. This is part of the attention paid to interfaces between traditional subfields of linguistics and methodological traditions one of the great strengths of the Department.

The Department has a strong commitment to the study of Languages of the Americas, with particular focus on First Nations Languages of Canada, in the areas of documentation and theoretical research, something for which it is well known. There are current faculty projects on languages in numerous language families including Algonquian (DéchaineWiltschko), Austronesian (Matthewson), Iroquoian (Gick), Na-Dene (DéchaineHansson), Otomanguean (Stemberger), Salish (DavisMatthewsonWiltschko), Tsimishianic (DavisMatthewson), Uto-Aztecan (Babel), Wakashan (Davis), and Yokuts (Hansson). Please see our statement on First Nations Languages here.

Research is not restricted to Languages of the Americas; the department also has a long history of work on African languages, particularly Niger-Congo (DéchainePulleyblank), and there is ongoing research on languages within the Indo-European (HanssonMorzycki, RullmannStembergerWiltschko), Japonic (Stemberger), Semitic (Abdul-Mageed), Sino-Tibetan (Stemberger), and Uralic (HanssonStemberger) families, as well as Korean (Stemberger) and American Sign Language (Hall). Graduate students work on these and other languages. (See past dissertations, and current graduate students.)